Interesting read by Howard Gardner: ‘Multiple intelligences’ are not ‘learning styles’

Actually, Gardner has also said this already a long time ago, but still it’s worth nothing that in a new article he repeats that MI shouldn’t be confused with the debunked learning styles.

This is what Gardner writes about it:

Intelligence: We all have the multiple intelligences. But we single out, as a strong intelligence, an area where the person has considerable computational power. Your ability to win regularly at a game involving spatial thinking signals strong spatial intelligence. Your ability to speak a foreign language well after just a few months of ‘going native’ signals strong linguistic intelligence.

Style or Learning Style: A style is a hypothesis of how an individual approaches the range of materials. If an individual has a “reflective style,” he is hypothesized to be reflective about the full range of materials. We cannot assume that reflectiveness in writing necessarily signals reflectiveness in one’s interaction with others. But if reflectiveness truly obtains across the board, educators should take that style seriously.

Senses: Sometimes people speak about a “visual” learner or an “auditory” learner. The implication is that some people learn through their eyes, others through their ears. This notion is incoherent. Both spatial information and reading occur with the eyes, but they make use of entirely different cognitive faculties. Similarly, both music and speaking activate the ears, but again these are entirely different cognitive faculties. Recognizing this fact, the concept of intelligences does not focus on how linguistic or spatial information reaches the brain—via eyes, ears, hands, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the power of the mental computer, the intelligence, that acts upon that sensory information, once picked up.

These distinctions are consequential. My goal here is not to give a psychology or a physiology or a physics lesson but rather to make sure that we do not fool ourselves and, as important, that we do not short change our children. If people want to talk about ‘an impulsive style’ or ‘a visual learner,’ that’s their prerogative. But they should recognize that these labels may be unhelpful, at best, and ill-conceived at worst. (Read more)

Still I think it’s also important to note that the word intelligence is also a problem in this case. Gardner should have used the word talent and it would have been more accurate.

7 thoughts on “Interesting read by Howard Gardner: ‘Multiple intelligences’ are not ‘learning styles’

  1. […] Ik zie enkele mogelijke verklaringen. Er is de trage verspreiding van wetenschappelijke inzichten naar de werkvloer. Zo is de theorie van meervoudige intelligenties zeer populair in onderwijs. Nochtans is deze theorie nauwelijks onderbouwd en compleet verouderd. Voor alle duidelijkheid: dat zeg ik niet, maar schreef vorig jaar Howard Gardner, de bedenker van de theorie zelf. De voorbije 20 jaar heeft hij er trouwens herhaaldelijk op gewezen dat hoe zijn theorie vaak gebruikt wordt in het onderwijs helemaal niet strookt met wat hij oorspronkeli…. […]

  2. […] Ik zie enkele mogelijke verklaringen. Er is de trage verspreiding van wetenschappelijke inzichten naar de werkvloer. Zo is de theorie van meervoudige intelligenties zeer populair in onderwijs. Nochtans is deze theorie nauwelijks onderbouwd en compleet verouderd. Voor alle duidelijkheid: dat zeg ik niet, maar schreef vorig jaar Howard Gardner, de bedenker van de theorie zelf. De voorbije 20 jaar heeft hij er trouwens herhaaldelijk op gewezen dat hoe zijn theorie vaak gebruikt wordt in het onderwijs helemaal niet strookt met wat hij oorspronkeli…. […]

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